Bryan was born in Dublin and attended the College of Commerce in Rathmines before beginning a career in commercial radio. He joined the BBC in 1983 as a reporter and later a presenter of various news and current affairs shows including Good Morning Ulster. He reported on a range of important international stories including the Anglo Irish Agreement, the ongoing Troubles in Northern Ireland, and the famine in Ethiopia.
He joined RTÉ in 1987 as a reporter with the This Week programme. Later that year he was appointed RTÉ’s Business Correspondent, reporting on a range of financial stories for the national broadcaster, as well as presenting the television business programme Marketplace. In 1991 he became presenter of theOne O’Clock News, later moving to present the Nine News programme before being appointed anchor of the Six One News in 1996. He also presented Leaders Questions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
During his career he has reported from around the world for RTÉ including the first free elections in South Africa in 1994; US presidential inaugurations since the mid-1990s; the 9/11 attacks in New York; the London Tube bombings; the Good Friday Agreement and ongoing Anglo Irish relations; as well as the most important Irish stories of the last 20 years.
He has also worked on a number of RTÉ documentary programmes including The Madness from Within, an account of the Irish Civil War; Witnesses to War, which featured interviews with Irish veterans of the Second World War and most recently guest presented special programmes on the Lusitania and 1916 Rising for RTÉ Nationwide..
In June 2014, the University of Limerick announced his appointment as Adjunct Professor of Public Service Broadcast Journalism for a three-year period.
In November 2017, after 21 years presenting RTÉ One's Six One News programme, Bryan Dobson joinedRachael English, Dr Gavin Jennings and Audrey Carville on the team of presenters anchoring RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland, the most-listened-to radio programme in Ireland.
In addition to presenting Morning Ireland, Bryan continued to be a key presenter for RTÉ's television coverage of special state events including elections, referendums and budgets.